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Atlantic Sun Conference Preview

November 11, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments



Atlantic Sun Conference 2004-05 Preview

by Darren Lowry

The Atlantic Sun conference is as unpredictable as any other conference this season due to the major roster turnover that occurred conference-wide in the off-season. Several schools will be benefiting from an influx of new talent, whether it be now-eligible transfers or incoming freshmen. However, many of those same schools are also having to cope with the losses of multiple starters.

But perhaps the bigger news of 2004-2005 in the conference is that this year will be the last hurrah in the A-Sun for two schools: Central Florida and Troy State. That’s because both will be moving to different conferences beginning next season. In addition, Georgia State recently announced that they will be leaving the conference in 2006. Florida Atlantic has also committed to switching conferences, with its football team moving in 2005, and all of its other athletic programs, including basketball, moving at an undetermined later date.

While the seemingly sudden departure of four schools sounds foreboding for the conference’s future, it is important to keep in mind that of all of the schools leaving, Georgia State is the only one that does not also currently have a football program. In fact, only two of the remaining eight schools have both a football and a basketball program. Thus, the decision to leave the conferences is most likely a football-related decision. Also, East Tennessee State recently accepted an invitation to join the A-Sun next season, helping to soften the blow. A-Sun officials said that the team would be immediately eligible for the A-Sun championship, as well as the automatic NCAA bid.

However, none of the schools will be thinking about the impending move this season, as the A-Sun will be as wide open as ever. Notably, the defending conference champion Golden Knights will have to replace three of their starters while the Trojans, who earned a post-season NIT berth after winning the regular season championship, will have to replace all five starters from a year ago.

This season may more most come down to the coaching, as many teams will have to rapidly implement their system and quickly develop team chemistry in order to win. With that in mind, here are the pre-season picks for several prestigious awards:

Pre-season All-Conference Team:
Mike Bell F – Florida Atlantic
Travis DeGroot G – Georgia State
Haminn Quaintance F – Jacksonville
E.J. Gordon G – Stetson
Wesley Duke F – Mercer

Pre-season Conference MVP

Mike Bell F – Florida Atlantic

Newcomer of the Year

Travis DeGroot G – Georgia State

Defensive Player of the Year

Haminn Quaintance F – Jacksonville

Most Overlooked Player

Anthony Register G – Stetson

Most High-Impact Freshman

Brian Pfohl F – Mercer

Coach of the Year

Rick Byrd – Belmont

Coach Potentially on the Hot Seat

Sidney Green – Florida Atlantic

Team Capsules: (In order of projected finish)

Georgia State Panthers

(4th overall last season, 20-9 overall, 14-6 in-conference)

Projected Starting Five:
G Herman Favors
G Travis DeGroot
F Kevin Thomas
F Marcus Brown
C Deven Dickerson

Scheduling notables: Very tough non-conference away games at Kentucky and Texas Tech will serve as a litmus test for how Georgia State may do if they indeed make the NCAA tournament this season.

Even after losing three starters from last season, including All-Conference center Nate Williams, guard Lamont McIntosh, and forward Trello Galloway, Georgia State may have the most solid and deep team in the league, making them the favorites. Much of their strength will come from a strong recruiting class made up mostly of JuCo players, including DeGroot, who could easily challenge for conference MVP this year.

The team will return Favors and Thomas as starters from last year’s squad. Thomas averaged just at ten points a game last season.

Other potential impact players include shooting guard Malcom Manier, forward Justin Billingslea, and forward Clark Williams.

Perhaps the team’s only weakness lies in its lack of experience at center. Sylvester Morgan averaged just eight minutes a game last season, and newcomer Dickerson is talented, but unproven. The team may have to rely on the 6-8 Billingslea or even the 6-7 Brown for better depth.

The Panthers’ success will depend on how the team balances its talent with trying to form good chemistry early on in the season.

Projected finish: 1st overall regular season, A-Sun Conference Champs, lose in first round of NCAA tournament

Stetson Hatters

(5th overall last season, 12-15 overall, 10-10 in-conference)

Projected Starting Five:
G E.J. Gordon
G Anthony Register
F Boris Djordjic
F Karl Hollingsworth
C Mark Stiles

Scheduling notables: The team will play five non-conference road games in December, including games against Georgia, Florida, and Florida State, which will be a big early season test for the Hatters.

Stetson is one of the few teams returning most of their starters from last season, with just forward Kevin Craig having departed in the off-season. The returning starters will be led by the stellar backcourt of Gordon and Register, while big men Djordjic and Stiles have come back to man the posts. Newcomer Hollingsworth will look to make the most of his starting time after being a reserve at Tulane University last season.

The Hatters’ biggest change for this season may be their overall size. Incoming transfer forward Ben Bridges is 6-7, and forwards J.J. Hirst and David Kilgore are both 6-8, while center Chief Kickingstallionsims is a whopping 7-1. Look for the Hatters to use their superior height to dominate opponents in the post game this season, freeing up Gordon and Register to play make from the perimeter.

However, the team will have to improve its awful team shooting, ranking last in three point percentage, and next to last in field goal percentage. The better post presence should improve the quality of the shots that the team will take on average, but they still have to make them.

Most importantly, in order to be successful this season, Stetson must improve its overall defense. The Hatters gave up nearly five more points per game than they scored last season, a statistic they clearly have to improve on this year. However, their overwhelming size will give Stetson a clear advantage over many teams in the conference this season.

Projected finish: 2nd in regular season standings, eliminated in 2nd round of playoffs

University of Central Florida Golden Knights

(2nd overall last season, 25-6 overall, 17-3 in-conference)

Projected Starting Five:
G Kingsley Edwards
G Gary Johnson
F Marcus Avant
F Josh Peppers
C William Bakanowsky

Scheduling notables: The Golden Knights will participate in two non-conference tournaments this season, the BP Top of the World Classic held on Nov. 18-21, which is hosted by Alaska-Fairbanks, and the UCF Holiday Invitational, which is hosted by UCF on Dec. 28 and 29.

Also, UCF upset regular season champ Troy State twice last season, once in the regular season on the road, and the second time in the final round of the A-Sun tournament. UCF will no doubt be looking to extend their success against Troy State at the re-matches this year on Jan. 16 and Feb. 4.

UCF had a wildly successful season last year, garnering a 25-5 overall record that was good enough to place them 14th in the nation in team winning percentage. The team also finished second in the conference with a 17-3 in-conference record, then capped it off by upsetting first-place Troy State in the final round of the A-Sun tournament to advance to the Big Dance. There, the Golden Knights put up a strong fight before falling to #3 seed Pittsburgh 53-44 in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season.

However, when Dexter Lyons and Roberto Morentin graduated, UCF lost a pair of All-Conference players that will be very hard to replace. Their loss along with the departure of Josh Bodden means that the team’s top three scorers have all left, leaving a huge offensive void. Indeed, those three players accounted for nearly 61% of the team’s total points scored last year.

The Golden Knights’ strength was always their defense, as they gave up less than 62 points per game last season. In fact, the team ranked 24th in the NCAA in team scoring defense.

However, not only was Lyons the team’s leading scorer, he was also voted as A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year last season. Thus, the team must quickly learn to adapt to Speraw’s philosophy if they are going to be successful this year.

In addition, the Golden Knights did not add a single new freshman over the off-season. Instead, they will rely on a couple JuCo transfers in guard Anthony Williams and forward Marcus Johnson to make up for their losses and provide depth.

However, all of the players projected to start this season either started or came off the bench for UCF last year, which should give them an early advantage over other schools in developing team chemistry.

The team returned two quality players in Johnson and Avant, both of whom were important starters for the team last year. Likewise, Peppers, Edwards, and Bakanowsky all logged valuable reserve minutes last season. However, none of those three are used to starting at the college level. How they adjust stamina-wise will be key.

UCF must both find a way to replace the offense lost from last year, and must continue to be defensively strong if they want to again go far in the postseason this year. As none of the returning players averaged more than eight points a game, somebody must step up offensively. With the Golden Knights departing for Conference USA this season, the team is no doubt looking to go out with a bang.

Projected finish: 3rd in regular season standings, lose in final round of playoffs

Jacksonville Dolphins (7th overall last season, 13-15 overall, 8-12 in-conference)

Projected Starting Five:
G David Lee
G Aubrey Conerly
F Haminn Quaintance
F Antonio Cool
F Joey Robinson

Scheduling notables: The Dolphins will have to do well on the road in their non-conference games, playing Florida, Tennessee Tech, Florida State in away matches, as well as Savannah State, who will also play one game in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville returns one of the best players in the league in Quaintance, who took the conference by storm his freshman year on the way to winning the A-Sun Freshman of the Year award. He is a stud on both ends of the court, racking up nine double-doubles, good enough for third-most in the league. He also averaged three blocks a game, making him perhaps the most dominating defensive player in the league this year.

Also returning are the starting guard team of Lee and Conerly, who also racked up impressive offensive numbers last season. This year, the team has brought in two JuCo players to improve depth at the position, in Jesse Kimbrough and B.J. Surry, both of whom averaged double digits in points at their respective schools.

Rounding out the starters for the Dolphins this season will be JuCo transfers Cool and Robinson.

However, the team did lose a couple key players, including starting center Jure Lozancic, who signed with a Spanish basketball league this year, as well as starting forward Nolan McBride, who graduated. Valuable reserve guard Woury Diallo, who averaged twelve points a game while also averaging less than eighteen minutes a night, also left in the off-season.

However, the team should not have to worry about depth this season, as they added a conference-high eight new players this year.

Quite obviously, the team will do very well offensively this season. Quaintance will continue to dominate in the post, and the improved depth at the guard position bodes well for the program. In fact, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine them upping their team scoring average by five points per game.

However, the weakness of the team is team defense. Although they averaged 71 points scored a game, they gave up nearly 74 points a game. Clearly, the Dolphins must concentrate on bringing that number down if they are to successful this year.

Projected finish: 4th in overall standings, lose in 1st round of playoffs

Belmont Bruins

(3rd overall last season, 21-9 overall, 15-5 in-conference)

Projected Starting Five:
G Brian Collins
G Jese Snyder
G Josh Goodwin
F Adrian Jones
C Andrew Preston

Scheduling notables: The Bruins will take part in the 2004 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Tournament from Nov. 11-19, with the first game against St. Marys in Berkeley, California. However, with teams such as Cal and Syracuse also in the tournament, it will be very tough for the Bruins to win it. The team also will play a few other non-conference opponents, including road games against UAB and Tennessee.

The Bruins shocked the basketball world when they defeated Missouri on the road last year on Dec. 30. For that matter, Belmont played extremely well in their entire non-conference schedule, also defeating an Air Force team that ranked tops in the NCAA in team defense. They also traded wins with UCF and Austin Peay, both of whom also were nationally ranked in that category.

In short, the Bruins surprised a number of people last season because other teams underestimated them.

However, the two biggest leaders and best players from the team, Adam Mark and Steve Drabyn, graduated, leaving a void which must be replaced.

Mark was far and away the most acclaimed player on the team, having won numerous awards in his four years both on and off the court. For example, he ranked 6th in the NCAA in field goal percentage, even though he took (and made) far more shots than those who finished ahead of him. In fact, in the entire league, only Connecticut’s Emeka Okafor finished with more field goals made last season. Mark shot 70.8 percent from the floor his sophomore year, good enough for 5th best all-time. He finished 13th in NCAA history for highest career field goal percentage.

Drabyn was another valuable player that the Bruins will really miss this year. He was perhaps the most clutch player on the team, who not only was a strong 3-point shooter, but also tied for 6th-best in the NCAA in free throw percentage.

They will not be easily replaced.

However, the team does have a strong nucleus of returning players, led by Collins, who was named to the A-Sun All Freshman team last season. In addition, Snyder, Goodwin, and Jones all have superb range, as all three are particularly adept at hitting three-pointers.

Preston, whose playing time was limited in large part because of Mark’s success, looked very good in limited playing time last season. He should become one of the better centers in the league this season with his additional playing time.

The team does have some good backups already in place this season in Nick Otis and Michael Modlin, both of whom will have to play significantly more minutes this season. The team also secured a number of promising prospects for the future, including Will Peeples, Justin Hare, and Andy Wicke.

Since much of Belmont’s offense this season will be centered upon taking ranged shots, particularly 3-pointers, and because the team has a number of players who are talented at making them, the team may not suffer a significant drop-off this season like some have predicted.

Also, even with their losses, the team remains strong defensively, something which should keep them in the hunt all season long.

Projected finish: 5th place, lose in 2nd round of playoffs

Troy State Trojans

(1st overall last season, 24-7 overall, 19-2 in-conference)

Projected Starting Five:
G Bobby Dixon
G Xavier Mathis
F Corey Hornsby
F Ryan Heck
C Eddie Baker

Scheduling notables: The Trojans will take part in a three game tournament in the Virgin Islands on Nov. 20-22, and will also face off against Southwest Missouri State, Arkansas, and Ole Miss on non-conference road games. In addition, they will travel to New Mexico on Dec. 28-29 to play in the New Mexico Tournament.

Also, the team will look for revenge against UCF this season after the Golden Knights beat the Trojans in Alabama on Jan. 23 and upset them again in the final round of the A-Sun tournament last season. Both teams likely have Jan. 16 and Feb. 4, the dates of the re-matches, marked on their calendars.

Troy State had an amazing 19-2 showing last season, where they finished first in the regular season standings, many of which were dominating performances of double-digit blowouts. The accomplishment marked the fourth straight year that the Trojans had at least earned a split of the top spot in the regular season standings. The conference recognized the team’s great year when they awarded Maestri the A-Sun Coach-of-the-Year Award.

The team led the nation or placed highly in a number of team and individual categories last year, with many of those accomplishments going relatively unnoticed nationwide. Troy State finished 20th in the nation in overall winning percentage and 13th in average scoring margin last season.

The Trojans just barely missed out on finishing undefeated in A-Sun play by a total of three points, losing by one at Georgia State on Jan. 13, and by two at home against UCF ten days later. The team missed the NCAA tournament by losing to UCF in the final round of the A-Sun tournament last season, a loss which no doubt was devastating.

Much of Troy State’s success last year came from their superior offense, which averaged nearly 85 points a game, again good enough for third in the nation. Most of those points came from outstanding perimeter shooting that the Trojans showcased last year. In fact, Troy State led the NCAA in three pointers made per game, averaging just under twelve a contest.

However, all five starters from a year ago have left the program, significantly damaging the Trojans in 2004-2005. The team will certainly miss forwards Kendrick Johnson and Jerome Stamper and the services of guard Herbert Evans, but the more devastating departures are the loss of guard Greg Davis and forward Rob Lewin.

Davis racked up personal accolades almost as fast as he racked up assists last season. He was named the A-Sun Player of the Year last season and made the All Conference team on his way to leading all of the NCAA in assists and a whopping 8.4 assists per game. He also placed 21st in the NCAA in steals per game. His ten double-doubles ranked him second in the conference.

Lewin, who was named to the All Conference team last season, also was a key offensive player for the Trojans, leading the team in scoring and racking up seven double-doubles in his own right.

Clearly, Troy State will not be able to replace those players overnight. The team is going to be made up of a mix of the five returning players from last year, and the seven (!) JuCo players the school brought in.

Of the incoming players, Baker and Dixon look the most promising, and Heck is clearly the most talented of the returning players.

However, Troy State’s future this season is very uncertain. The team has a very positive past, with their recent history of placing first. However, the Trojans don’t seem to have anywhere near the talent they have had in recent years, especially last year. They will have to lock into Maestri’s philosophy to be successful.

Because Troy State is moving to the Sun Belt Conference after this season, the team is sure to do everything they can to make their last season in the A-Sun a very successful one.

Projected finish: 6th place in regular season standings, lose in 1st round of playoffs

Florida Atlantic University Owls

(8th overall last season, 9-19 overall, 6-14 in-conference)

Projected Starting Five:
G Quinton Young
G Kahleaf Watson
F Mike Bell
F Pierre Tucker
C Robert Williams

Scheduling notables: The Owls will take part in two non-conference tournaments this season, the Florida International on Nov. 19, and the Nevada Tournament on Dec. 17-18. They will also play UNLV in an away game on Dec. 22.

Florida Atlantic has perhaps the most complete player in the league in Bell, who averages nearly a double-double per game. He is very difficult to defend, as he has the size of a forward, but the range of a guard. He’ll be giving opposing teams fits this year.

He’ll be joined by other returning big men in Tucker and Williams, who should help give the Owls a strong presence in the post.

However, the departure of guard duo Earnest Crumbley and Jeff Cowans will be tough on FAU. In fact, Crumbley left as the school’s all-time leader in points, three-pointers, and assists. Watson and Young will have their work cut out for them to replace the production of the two seniors.

Even with Bell, the team has a number of weaknesses. Most glaring is the fact that Bell potentially may be counted on too much for offense, making the team’s offensive attack dangerously one-dimensional. They only have eleven players, so any problems with depth will be much harder for the Owls to compensate for. Also, size is also not a strength of the team, with the 6-9 Bell as the tallest player. Some of the taller teams may be able to take advantage of that.

In addition, the team is a terrible free-throw shooting team, finishing tied for second-to-last in the A-Sun last season in that category. That is one category that must improve if they are to make any huge strides from last season.

If any team in the league has a coach on the hot seat, FAU may be it. Green’s record in four years is 44-104, certainly unimpressive at best. With Florida Atlantic switching conferences to the Sun Belt in the near future, the school may choose to go in another direction for a fresh start.

Despite losing all but two of its last sixteen games last season, FAU did sneak into the playoffs. That makes a coaching change doubtful, but of course, it may depend on how the Owls fare this year. If they go on another prolonged losing streak, a coaching change is possible.

Projected finish: 7th place overall, lose in 1st round of playoffs

Gardner-Webb Bulldogs

(9th overall last season, 9-20 overall, 6-14 in-conference)

Projected Starting Five:
G Josh Chiles
G Tim Jennings
F Brian Bender
F Simon Conn
C Zoran Jelenic

Scheduling notables: The Bulldogs will be put to the test early this year when they face off against Arkansas, Georgia, UNLV, and Colorado, all on the road. Those road games should give Gardner-Webb a good indication of how their young team will do this season.

Even though the team was not going to be eligible for the A-Sun tournament anyway, Gardner-Webb still finished with the same record as the 8th place Florida Atlantic last season.

This season, the Bulldogs will be eligible for post-season play, and are looking to get there largely on the strength of a highly-touted class of new recruits, including four JuCo players.

The most notable new recruit is Jennings, a very talented transfer who was drawing interest from big-name NCAA schools during his high school career. In addition to being a talented scorer, he is also a very strong defender. The Bulldogs will certainly count on his help defensively this season to improve, as they gave up an average of five more points per game than they scored.

Gardner-Webb will also rely on Jelenic, another new recruit, to step right in and play lots of minutes at forward, since only one forward, Bender remains from last season. Interestingly, both Jennings and Jelenic are transferring from the same school, Pensacola Junior College. That previous relationship should help ease the transition for both players.

Also returning is leading scorer Bender, who averaged nearly thirteen points and seven rebounds a game last season. He needs to continue to improve for the Bulldogs this season.

One area of the team that will have to become more consistent is the backcourt. Gardner-Webb had four players who started fourteen games or more last season. Certainly, Scruggs would prefer to rely on two players start more than twenty games this season. The addition of Jennings should make it that much easier for him.

Even though he only played sparingly last season, Conn looked very good in his time, averaging six points a game in just over twelve minutes a game. It will be interesting to watch how he does in an expanded role this year.

The team will be able to rely on a pretty good bench this year as well, with Andre Manning and Chris Gash coming back. Both players started a significant amount of games for the Bulldogs last season. Also, the team believes JuCo transfer T.J. McCullough will do very well in a back-up role.

Gardner-Webb is certainly improved over last season. Indeed, the team is now one of the deepest in the league at the guard position. However, after their starting post players, the Bulldogs are very thin at forward.

Gardner-Webb will use their strength at the guard position to provide a steady aerial attack this season. However, their lack of depth at the forward may hurt them in several games this season.

Projected finish: 8th in overall standings, lose in 1st round of playoffs

Mercer Bears

(6th overall last season, 12-18 overall, 9-11 in-conference)

Projected Starting Five:
G Andrew Brown
G James Odoms
F Wesley Duke
F Brian Pfohl
C Will Emerson

Scheduling notables: Last year, Mercer scheduled a whopping ten non-conference games, an unusually high amount for the conference. This year is no different, as the team has seven non-conference games scheduled, among them a phenomenally difficult road game at Maryland, a match which is sure to push the Bears to their limit.

Mercer will also play in their University Center Arena for a full season this year. The Bears moved into the new building mid-way through the season last year, christening it with an upset victory over Georgia State.

In recent years, the Mercer basketball team has been characterized by major swings in the standings. In 2001-2002, the team had a 6-23 overall record. The very next season, the team went 23-6, marking the single greatest one-year turnaround in NCAA history and earning Slonaker league-wide praise. Last season, however, the team again fell in the standings, finishing 12-18 overall.

This season, though, it doesn’t appear as if Mercer is going to have another major swing in the standings.

On one hand, the program lost their two best players in Delmar Wilson and Scott Emerson, who led the team in many offensive categories including scoring and rebounds.

However, on the other hand, four of the Bears’ starters are returning from last year’s team. The team retained Duke and Odoms, both of whom are solid all-around players who will have to step up as leaders. Much of the team’s success rests in their very capable hands. Both Brown and Will Emerson also played significant roles last season, but neither averaged more than eighteen minutes per contest, and will have to adjust to the additional playing time.

Also, the Bears have one of the most talented incoming classes in the league. In fact, one of the team’s strengths both in this and future seasons will be their depth, both talent-wise and numbers-wise (the team has sixteen players this season). While that might bode well for the future of the program, it remains to be seen how that will affect Mercer for this campaign.

With that being said, it’s not out of the question that some of the new players could make an immediate impact, and help the team improve this year as well as down the road. Several of the freshmen, including Pfohl, won state-wide honors during their high school careers. After signing him in the off-season, Slonaker indicated that the forward will be one of the new players counted on to play significant minutes this season.

Other newcomers expected to make an impact this season are Shaddean Aaron and Sam Dolan.

However, the team will have to make up the offensive production they lost from last season. In addition, last year’s Mercer squad gave up an average of five more points than they scored per game. Again, the team must do a better job defensively if they want to succeed in 2004-2005.

The biggest key, though, is Mercer’s home and away record. The Bears did very well when playing at home last season, with a 10-2 overall home record. However, their away record was a pitiful 1-15. It’s no surprise that record has got to improve this year.

While Mercer’s future again looks bright, this year will probably be an adjustment one. It will be interesting to see if the Bears, with all of their inconsistency and uncertainty, will be able to squeak out a playoff spot again this year.

Projected finish: 9th in overall standings, miss playoffs

Campbell Camels

(11th overall last season, 3-24 overall, 3-17 in-conference)

Projected Starting Five:
G Anthony Atkinson
G Jake Wohlfeil
F Dominique Klein
F Diego Aguiar
F Russ Gibson

Scheduling notables: One thing is for certain: the Camels have absolutely no fear. They have non-conference road games scheduled against N.C. State, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Needless to say, a Camel sweep is unlikely.

The Camels had a season for the ages last year. The Middle Ages. The team lost every non-conference game it played, and also lost every road game it played. They also ranked last or second to last in nearly every team offensive category last season. It is important to note that Campbell was by far the youngest team in the league.

However, it wasn’t just the youth of the team last year that led to the bad record. Campbell has a history of struggling. In fact, in their whole time in the A-Sun conference, the team has only had one winning season.

However, there are signs that the Camels are nearing the end of their long desert wandering.

The team is returning perhaps their most talented player in Atkinson. He named to the All-Freshman team last season after finishing third in scoring among freshmen with eleven points a game and first among freshmen and third in the league in assists with more than four a game.

Also back this season are three talented forwards in Klein, Aguiar, and Colin Hunt. The three players rotated starts last year, but Klein and Aguiar will likely earn the majority of starts this season, and Hunt will probably come off the bench.

The new players, though, will be the key to both this year and the future of the program.

Expected to start are Wohlfeil, a good shooter who should see a lot of time at the 2-guard this season, and Gibson, who is one of the tallest players on the team, but also has better-than-average range for a post player.

Some players who can be expected to play quality backup minutes besides Hunt are incoming guards Stephon Griffin and Ruell Pringle.

Even with the outlook on the future perhaps brighter than in past years, the team is still at least a year away from seriously contending in the A-Sun. The Camels should improve enough to move out of the basement this season, but won’t go much farther than that.

Projected finish: 11th in overall standings, miss playoffs

Lipscomb Bisons

(10th overall last season, 7-21 overall, 4-16 in-conference)

Projected Starting Five:
G James Poindexter
G Brian Fisk
G Jason Guyette
F Matt Jarboe
C Shaun Durant

Scheduling notables: Unlike most of the other schools in the A-Sun, the majority of Lipscomb’s non-conference games are against smaller colleges, except for games at Minnesota, Savannah State, and Arkansas.

The Bisons went through a rough first season, finishing with a 7-21 record, and a 4-16 in-conference mark. Although the school is eligible for A-Sun postseason play this year, Lipscomb is likely to go through more of the same.

The good news for the Bisons is that they have two young, talented guards in Poindexter and Fisk that will again run the offense this year. Even better news is that Fisk is just a sophomore while Poindexter is a junior, meaning they still have plenty of time to get better. Indeed, Fisk earned a spot on the A-Sun All-Freshman team for his solid play.

Because the team often uses a three-guard set in games, Guyette, a JuCo transfer, is expected to be the three guard. Guyette played mostly as a forward in high school, but as a guard at Kaskaskia College, he concentrated on improving his 3-point shot to expand his range and make himself much more versatile.

However, the bad news is that the rest of the team is thin, most glaringly at the post position. What forward depth they had left when Albert Hacker and Chad Hartman graduated, leaving a huge void.

The team will try to replace the losses with Jarboe, who was a good reserve player last season, and Durant, a strong, big-bodied forward who also transferred from Kaskaskia.

While Lipscomb’s starting lineup isn’t bad, the team has practically no depth. Outside of newcomer Brandon Hartwell, the team has nobody they can count on to provide quality backup minutes. That will certainly show throughout the year, especially if the team has a tendency to get into foul trouble.

The team had the second-worst scoring margin in the league, giving up an average of eight more points a game than they scored. The team also ranked last in the conference in free throw shooting. The Bisons must step up and improve in both categories before they can start moving up in the A-Sun.

Right now Lipscomb is going through the adjustment to NCAA basketball, which can make for some rather painful seasons. However, they have a few talented players, and can know that they have a couple players to build a solid, successful program around in a few years.

Projected finish: 11th in overall standings, miss playoffs

The A-Sun conference should be a fun one to watch in 2004-2005. Two teams will be playing their last seasons ever in the A-Sun, while two more will be preparing to also move. Several of the top teams lost key players, while several of the other teams stocked up on prospects.

It should be very interesting to see which teams rise to the top in a conference where parity is now a big buzzword. The teams who establish a strong identity first should be the teams that have the most success this year.

     

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March 9, 2014 by

hofstra

The first year for Hofstra under Joe Mihalich is in the books. Many expected that wins would be hard to come by, and they were, but this season was about more than that and is hardly a throwaway year.

Cornell’s future can only be better

March 2, 2014 by

cornell

Cornell has had a rough season, as could be expected given some personnel losses. It’s almost in the books, and the future at least looks brighter.

Hoopville Archives

Even More: City Hoops Recruiting

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors hold college showcase

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors, two of the largest programs in Massachusetts, teamed up for a college showcase on Wednesday night. Here are some evaluations from that event.

Massachusetts 11th grade AAU Tournament recap

Teams gathered at Mass Premier Courts to chase the state title in the oldest age group, and one champion was a familiar one.

Travel team profile: All For One

All For One has been one of the better travel programs in Massachusetts for players before they reach high school

Travel team profile: Blackstone Valley Chaos

Size and options on the wing are not lacking for this year’s junior team

Travel team profile: Expressions Elite

Expressions Elite has quickly become one of the deeper programs in New England

Conference Coverage

2013-14 Big Ten Post-Mortem

July 8, 2014 by

bigten

The Big Ten had some teams slip as the season went on, but plenty of others picked up the slack in another good year for the conference.

2013-14 Sun Belt Post-Mortem

July 7, 2014 by

sunbelt

Membership changes have been happening at quite a pace of late in the Sun Belt, and it was a new member that stole the show for much of this past season and seems poised to lead the way in the future.

2013-14 Big Sky Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

bigsky

The teams that have led the way in the Big Sky of late were right there again this season. One of them won both the regular season and conference tournament, and also had a nice time with the post-season awards as well.

2013-14 MEAC Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

meac

The 2013-14 season was N.C. Central’s year in the MEAC, as the Eagles completed their four-year ascent to the top of conference.

2013-14 Big 12 Post-Mortem

June 30, 2014 by

big12

When it comes to overall depth, the Big 12 this season may have been one of the strongest leagues in a long time. The conference sent seven of its 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament, the first time in 21 years and just the fifth time ever that a league sent 70% or more of its teams to the tourney.

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